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Religious Studies > For Atheists, and Agnostics
Sailor's Avatar Sailor 02:56 AM 08-03-2009
This might be long too.

For the record, I also don't like the word atheist - though, I use it. I find people tend to incorrectly understand the word as anti-theist. As in I'm against their Gods and religion. Whereas I'm not against anything. I just don't personally hold a belief in God or other higher power.

I was raised Catholic. Growing up, I never really thought about religion much. Other than the fact that I disliked going to church, and I disliked what the Catholic church was teaching. I even went to Catholic school - I have to say, those religion classes that were mandatory went a long way in making me an atheist.

In my senior year of high school, I realized that I felt absolutely nothing when it came to the concept of "God." I never felt the need to pray, or a need for someone to watch over me or a need for spiritual guidance. I never really "got" faith.

Then, I switched over to paganism for awhile. About a year. But, that also didn't seem like a good fit. Again, I didn't feel the need for a higher power.

In college, I took some history courses that described the spread of Christianity. And I realized how darn similar the old pagan beliefs were to Christianity. I just remember thinking to myself "wow, there is no God. Some people just took a bunch of old legends and stories and re-designed them into Christianity." It all seemed very political and economic in terms of motivation.

Once I realized I definitely didn't believe, I found it incredibly freeing. My life was my own. No one was around judging me or telling me what to do or asking me to do their will or telling me when to have sex and when not to have sex or telling me not to use birth control, etc. (all concepts I was taught in my religion classes).

On top of my history classes, I took some philosophy and logic courses ... and it was like a light bulb lit up for me. Everywhere, in all areas of my life, I looked for facts and proof before I agreed that something existed. Why would I make an exception in any other area? So, I stopped making an exception and realized that (for me) God existing wasn't even remotely factual.

It's been 8 years since that time, and I haven't changed that outlook.

I also feel like I have a lot more curiosity for life. The answer isn't "God did it, and it's his plan which we shall discover eventually." The answer is - I don't know. Life is this incredible, amazing, gigantic mystery and I'm really enjoying pondering the answers.

I guess all those elements combined led to my atheism, and have led me to stay there.

~PurityLake~'s Avatar ~PurityLake~ 04:39 PM 08-03-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
This might be long too.

For the record, I also don't like the word atheist - though, I use it. I find people tend to incorrectly understand the word as anti-theist. As in I'm against their Gods and religion. Whereas I'm not against anything. I just don't personally hold a belief in God or other higher power.

I was raised Catholic. Growing up, I never really thought about religion much. Other than the fact that I disliked going to church, and I disliked what the Catholic church was teaching. I even went to Catholic school - I have to say, those religion classes that were mandatory went a long way in making me an atheist.

In my senior year of high school, I realized that I felt absolutely nothing when it came to the concept of "God." I never felt the need to pray, or a need for someone to watch over me or a need for spiritual guidance. I never really "got" faith.

Then, I switched over to paganism for awhile. About a year. But, that also didn't seem like a good fit. Again, I didn't feel the need for a higher power.

In college, I took some history courses that described the spread of Christianity. And I realized how darn similar the old pagan beliefs were to Christianity. I just remember thinking to myself "wow, there is no God. Some people just took a bunch of old legends and stories and re-designed them into Christianity." It all seemed very political and economic in terms of motivation.

Once I realized I definitely didn't believe, I found it incredibly freeing. My life was my own. No one was around judging me or telling me what to do or asking me to do their will or telling me when to have sex and when not to have sex or telling me not to use birth control, etc. (all concepts I was taught in my religion classes).

On top of my history classes, I took some philosophy and logic courses ... and it was like a light bulb lit up for me. Everywhere, in all areas of my life, I looked for facts and proof before I agreed that something existed. Why would I make an exception in any other area? So, I stopped making an exception and realized that (for me) God existing wasn't even remotely factual.

It's been 8 years since that time, and I haven't changed that outlook.

I also feel like I have a lot more curiosity for life. The answer isn't "God did it, and it's his plan which we shall discover eventually." The answer is - I don't know. Life is this incredible, amazing, gigantic mystery and I'm really enjoying pondering the answers.

I guess all those elements combined led to my atheism, and have led me to stay there.

I completely relate to your post.
philomom's Avatar philomom 04:52 PM 08-03-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Contrariety View Post
I simply never believed the religious propaganda being fed to me. Even as a young child, something seemed very off to me, and it just didn't add up.
Yep, that's me. I was driving the Sunday school teachers nuts even at age 4. My parents tried to make a believer... sometimes using fear and force. And still it didn't take. I raise my kids as nothing... just a nod to the seasons.
angie7's Avatar angie7 05:36 PM 08-03-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Contrariety View Post
I simply never believed the religious propaganda being fed to me. Even as a young child, something seemed very off to me, and it just didn't add up.
: I was brought up to believe in a god but we never went to church, never prayed, saying grace, etc. I knew as a small child that religion was not for me. I remember in grade school saying the pledge of allegiance, I would always skip the "one nation under god" part b/c I didn't feel right saying it. I would sleep over at friends houses and their parents would say grace at the table, I wouldn't bow my head. I was 5 years old here! I guess it's safe to say I was born an atheist.

FTR, my father recently outed himself as an atheist as well. He knew I was an atheist forever and we were watching "The Colbert Report" and he was interviewing an agnostic man and Colbert said "so you are an atheist without b@lls" My dad said that is when he realized that it was time to get b@lls and admit that he was an atheist. My brother is Christian and religion is something we do not talk about. My dh's side is strict Catholic but my dh is an atheist as well. Everyone said I converted them
laohaire's Avatar laohaire 06:06 PM 08-03-2009
I was raised by an athiest mother (who was mildly disdainful of religion) and a father who I guess I would characterize as a "Just-In-Case Catholic."

My father took me to church every Sunday, but he never talked about God or Jesus or religion. To my knowledge, he never prays or even reflects on God or spirituality. If asked he would certainly say he believed and was a Catholic, and I don't think he would be lying. But God does not seem to be a part of my father's life really, just more like a distant uncle or something that he'll send cards to once in a while. As a result, I grew up kind of thinking of God kind of like Santa Claus, something we pretend to believe in maybe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galatea View Post
I am an agnostic and have always been. I used to say atheist before I understood the difference. I think agnosticism is the only honest way to be.
I too always called myself an athiest until a few months ago and my DH explained to me what an agnostic was. I had heard of agnosticism but I guess I had some stuff wrong about it. It's funny, while DH is very spiritual and is not an agnostic at all, he also said that he really respected agnosticism and that it (in his opinion) was probably the only defensible position.

I suspect there's something greater going on out there but I have absolutely no idea what it is, and don't feel that any religion fits what I think. I have some real struggles with the way Christianity is practiced, and feel there are very, very few true Christians out there. Most seem more interested in following the letter of the law, going to church as society requires, having a bumper sticker and so on - but not really loving their neighbor, not really giving up wealth to help others, not really turning the other cheek.

I also have problems with the idea of a personified God. I know many religions say that we are made in His image, so naturally it would follow that He and we are somehow similar in some ways. But I just don't see it like that. It's not even the problem of seeing Him as a man, because I have the same problem picturing God as a woman. I just don't think it's like that at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Valkyrie9 View Post
But then my eyes started opening, particularly regarding the terrible things that happen to humankind. Children starve, are abused and murdered, killed in wars, etc. I could not reconcile that reality with what I had been taught about God, namely that he was (1) all-powerful, (2) all-knowing, and (3) loving.
Oh, I relate very much, and I've written on MDC before on my struggles with this. At some point I felt like I had near PTSD dealing with this (though nothing like that had ever happened to me personally).

The one thing that makes me think it maybe will turn out ok is that there is indeed, as people say, a greater plan. That God lets these horrible things happen, but He does it because it will all be ok in the end. Not just punishments and reward, but true fulfillment.

I don't know if I believe it or not, but that's what I keep mulling over. My best friend from high school was raped (probably repeatedly) by her father and she did not ever get the help she needed. She died by her own hand at age 22. I had a lucid dream and she came to me, and she was fundamentally different: completely and totally content, at peace. It was very strange because "at peace" was not at all even a small part of her character when I knew her, so I don't know how I could manage to imagine her that way. Assuming that I truly did commune with her in my dream (as opposed to it all being my imagination), it all did work out ok (to say the least!!) for her in the end. I don't know what the deal was, but there was no part of her that was sad or hurt or angry anymore. When I think of all the children out there, I hold on to this hope - fervently.
Adele_Mommy's Avatar Adele_Mommy 01:17 PM 08-04-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by angie7 View Post
I remember in grade school saying the pledge of allegiance, I would always skip the "one nation under god" part b/c I didn't feel right saying it.
My dd does this too!
ramama's Avatar ramama 01:16 AM 08-08-2009
I think I was always an atheist. Well, I'm more of a pantheist, but whatever...It just never felt right to me, the god thing. I don't want to be condescending, but my brain and sense of logic wouldn't let me believe in god. Really, there's more evidence for he existence of Sasquatch and the Lock Ness monster than there is for the existence of God. But if someone has faith in unicorns or mermaids, they are seen as wack-a-doos. To me, faith in god is the same thing. I always perceived faith as a dumbing down.
marimara's Avatar marimara 09:09 AM 08-08-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramama View Post
I think I was always an atheist. Well, I'm more of a pantheist, but whatever...It just never felt right to me, the god thing. I don't want to be condescending, but my brain and sense of logic wouldn't let me believe in god. Really, there's more evidence for he existence of Sasquatch and the Lock Ness monster than there is for the existence of God. But if someone has faith in unicorns or mermaids, they are seen as wack-a-doos. To me, faith in god is the same thing. I always perceived faith as a dumbing down.
I totally identify with your statement. Im an INTP and logic rules my life, my brain, everything I do. Evolution,science=logical, creation, an omnipotent, all loving, kind, and just god considering the state of humans worldwide + the fact that there are so many religions that say they are the correct ones=very unlogical. I came to that conclusion when I was about 19, when I got away from home and actually had time and space to think. having faith in a singular god is to me completely illogical and I can't understand for the life of me figure out why people believe. The only answer I've come up with is that they are afraid to ask the hard questions, actually look at the answers. That or that they will not go against the grain, rock the boat, etc. Too conformist.

eta, sorry for the lack of cohesion and the typos, very early, brain is not on....
JacqNS's Avatar JacqNS 12:01 PM 08-10-2009
I've bowed before the "gods" of reason, logic, and scientific proof for as long as I can remember. Even as a young child, I felt that the answers provided by religious figures held no more weight than any other myths. It wasn't until my teenage years that I realized there was an actual term for the my beliefs (Secular Humanism), but that's what they've always been.
laohaire's Avatar laohaire 01:19 PM 08-10-2009
This is not at all to debate anyone here, since this is an athiest/agnostic thread and I'm one of you guys!

But it's interesting, it's logic that makes brings me to agnosticism (rather than remaining athiest). I do not feel God in my heart at all, but the logic leads me to believe there may be something to it. (But, for me, definitely not a guy with a beard! lol).
Daffodil's Avatar Daffodil 01:43 PM 08-10-2009
Logic makes me recognize that almost anything could be true. The only thing I can know for certain is that I myself exist. It's possible that God exists, or that some of the trees in my yard are really aliens disguising themselves as trees, or that I created the universe but don't remember it. But I don't see any particular reason to believe any of those things, so it makes more sense to me to describe myself as someone who doesn't believe in those things than as someone who doesn't know whether they're true or not. Of course I don't know, but the possibility that they could be true isn't an important force in my life.
MommyofHero's Avatar MommyofHero 10:15 PM 08-10-2009
Great to see this thread!!!

Labels can be restrictive, and i generally try to avoid them, but in regards to my religious views, i think i would label myself as a Taoist/ Non-theist/ Freethinker.

Taoist because i naturally live by that philosophy and way of thinking and it's beautiful to me.

Non-theist because i don't buy into the whole monotheistic personal god thing, but i do believe that we are all "gods" of our own realities. (Yes, I am god. So are you.)

Freethinker because the freakin possibilities in this life are absolutely infinite and i love using my imagination!

For the first 20 years of my life, I was controlled, abused, oppressed, and manipulated under the Christian religion. I was a frightened, mistreated, and misinformed robot for Jesus. At 21 I left my Christian husband and was basically reborn, living free from the confines of religion for the first time in my life.

10 years have past and only recently (since I have become a parent for the first time myself have I been able to speak openly about the damage and trauma that Christian extremism had on my life. My life is overwhelmingly beautiful now, and I am excited to raise my children to be freethinkers and well-educated in all spiritual paths.

Freedom of the mind is a beautiful thing !
Poddi's Avatar Poddi 09:34 PM 08-14-2009
I was raised in an atheist environment. Almost everybody I knew was atheist. You can say I was "brainwashed" by atheism. You hear things like "there's never any proof that gods and deities can save you, you've got to work hard for your own happiness in this life." as early as I could remember.

I do always respect other people's beliefs and agree their gods can be real, real enough to the believers anyway. I do think faith has a lot of positive qualities and when one deeply believes it, it can affect their lives greatly. To me there's really no right or wrong when it comes to beliefs. (Mind you that I also don't care who's more right or wrong.)
orangebird's Avatar orangebird 02:43 AM 08-19-2009
I was never a believer. I was raised Jewish. But more like "remember you're a JEW!!!!" but no one spoke of god. My parents were atheists. And a god never made sense. I tried in jr high to believe cuz I was jealous of my friends, but I could never wrap my mind around it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post

I'm a believer in science and data. Over time, it just became obvious to me that there is exactly zero evidence that there is a god. Nothing that holds water at all. It is something that mankind invents largely to keep from accepting the finality of death. So, I started being honest with myself for a change. I would describe myself as agnostic, because if there ever were any data to support the supernatural, I'd be open to examining it.

Just like you , EF, and I respect you for evar. I am not agnostic any more than I am agnostic about the FSM or china teapot, or garden gnomes. I am atheist about them all. But I would totally 100% be up for listening to data that shows possibly otherwise. Doesn't make me a unicorn agnostic. I am still aunicornist. The point is any data about any "thing" is worth more investigation. I am not agnostic about all things. I just don't believe it, or even pretend to withhold judgement until I KNOW it. I mean, why pretend? I don't see any evidence at all, so why claim agnosticism? hmm.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Valkyrie9 View Post
I like the way you say that--it makes sense to me. But for the sake of argument, how do you believe religion came to be a nearly universal condition of mankind?

Well, early man with these incredible minds, we had/have questions, people like to create answers. A human trait.

It's natural to wonder why, how??? And in the years think about how many of these questions science has answered. Thunder, lightening, floods, death, etc, etc. Of course we made an answer up til we found a better one, if that makes sense.
siobhang's Avatar siobhang 12:47 AM 08-20-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangebird View Post
I mean, why pretend? I don't see any evidence at all, so why claim agnosticism? hmm.
This is where I am too. And for me it was a realization that in order for intellectual and spiritual honesty, I had to stop hedging my bets, ya know, by holding onto agnosticism. Your mileage may vary.


Quote:
Well, early man with these incredible minds, we had/have questions, people like to create answers. A human trait.

It's natural to wonder why, how??? And in the years think about how many of these questions science has answered. Thunder, lightening, floods, death, etc, etc. Of course we made an answer up til we found a better one, if that makes sense.
We also are astonishingly good pattern recognizers - it is part of our big brains that make us so adaptable and created 7+billion of us. We are also good at communicating those observed patterns amongst ourselves and turning those patterns into stories that both mark the pattern and then explain them - which naturally turns into mythos.

Religion is what you get when you mix "how things happen" with "why things happen" and "what things SHOULD happen".

Michael Shermer has a great book called How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science (2001). Also, his classic Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time is always worth reading.
MusicianDad's Avatar MusicianDad 02:32 AM 08-20-2009
I am a hard core agnostic.

About 14 years ago I got really interested in religion in general that lead to a serious amount of study on any system of belief I could find info on. At the time I self identified as Christian and was fine with it, but the more I learned the less sure I was. I over the next 10 years I self idenified as a wide range of religions. In the end they all seemed to make sense while at the same time I was not really able to have any real faith in any of them because while the moral values they taught were ones I mostly identified with, the part that makes it a religion and a true belief was never something I could say for sure. I had never bothered to consider Agnostisim as a possible religious belief before because there was no deity. I finally decided to look it up and when I saw the actual definition of a hard core agnostic (or strict agnostic) I knew instantly that was likely to be the only real belief that I would likely ever have. The belief that God(s) may or may not exist.

For me it wasn't just the lack of evidence for God(s), it was also the lack of evidence for no God(s).

ETA: What evidence I did find was all two way. If you believe in a God or Gods then it can be used as evidence, if you believe in no God or Gods then it can be used as evidence.
jordanjanine's Avatar jordanjanine 12:19 AM 08-21-2012

beautiful I don't buy it either oxo best of luck


IdentityCrisisMama's Avatar IdentityCrisisMama 05:00 PM 10-13-2012

Oops - just realized this is an OLD thread. 


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